Coworking Story #1 — Design Thinking as a Principle of Coworking Space Kleinhandel

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Every two weeks we publish a blog in our series of Coworking Stories. Working in a coworking space is relatively new and carries new motivations, needs and collaborations along. We want to uncover how special, sustainable and valuable it is to work in a coworking space. We also want to investigate what the struggles are and what needs to be improved . In this first edition, Sem Carree of Kleinhandel in Rotterdam explains us how they integrated Design Thinking in creating a coworking space.

It seems exceptional. Someone who has a background in Strategic Product Design, that currently is a concept creator of a coworking space, called Kleinhandel. Despite that, it is not as crazy as it sounds. The vision on which the prudence of Kleinhandel is based, originates from Design Thinking. The statement of Albert Einstein: “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them” has a relation with Design Thinking and on the tact and vision of concept creators Sem Carree and Brendan Jansen op de Haar. What role does Design Thinking play in the development of the coworking space and the community that it carries?

Developing from the tenants point of view
“Kleinhandel came into being from an opportunity field,” says Carree. “Brendan and I had a company, housed in a coworking space that would be demolished. We saw an opportunity in developing a

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coworking space ourselves. We asked our associated tenants what their needs and desires were, in renting a work space. It appeared that a central location, fast internet and a professional appeal were tangible must haves. This is also Design Thinking. The human being takes center stage and you really develop from the needs and desires of the tenants. They (and we) outgrew the ad hoc location and were ready for a premium office concept.”

Transparency, co-creation and progression
“We are transparent ever since the start. It is our value proposition on which our pricing and spaces are based. Next to it, we let future tenants participate in the concept design. Together we designed the floor plan of our first floor, which had an amount of 800 square meters. Because of this, their body of thoughts is intertwined in the concept of Kleinhandel. This contributes to their alliance with the office space and plays a fundamental role in sustainable rent. Beside it, we try to facilitate our tenants in the development of their business.”

Pain of the community: isles

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“Kleinhandel grows well. In the meantime, the coworking space contains 6000 square meters. “What we see, is that little islands come into existence within the community,” says Sem. “It is our job to break through the isles, in order that the community stays the same. To do that, we simply located a table tennis table, to lead the tenants to the table to meet there. Our goal is to let every tenant contribute to the community, in a pleasant way.”

Kleinhandel x Design Thinking
“Thinking from the tenants, taking their needs and desires serious, designing the floor plan in co-creation. Design Thinking is truly intertwined in the DNA of Kleinhandel. This doesn’t mean that the letters Sem and Brendan are indissoluble committed to the concept. “Our goal is to share and develop the body of thoughts with the tenants,” says Carree. “And yes, that is also Design Thinking.”

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Photos: Kleinhandel

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